If You Have Ever Woken Up Unable to Move, This Is What Is Happening with You…
Sleeping is a crucial part of our lives because this is the time when we rest our body and mind. We pause from the stress and worries that our everyday lives bring and we gather energy for the following day. However, there are a lot of people who experience different kinds of sleeping problems. One such problem is a phenomenon known as sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is a condition in which a person wakes up from their sleep completely paralyzed, i.e. they cannot move for a couple of minutes, which seem to last forever. Often times, people who suffer from sleep paralysis feel as if they’re unable to catch their breath. They even claim to see a shadow in the periphery of their vision whereas others feel as if someone is sitting on their chest.
The first known description of this type of attack is from 2400 BC when Gilgamesh’s father was said to be a night demon who returned in both art and sculpture. Women also thought that they were visited by an incubus-a sex demon who sat on their chest and seduced them. The female equivalent of this demon was known as succubae. Often times, there was a need for exorcism in order to get rid of the demons.
Nonetheless, sleep paralysis attacks aren’t dangerous. Narcolepsy is closely associated with this condition. Narcolepsy is a disorder which leads to excessive sleepiness during waking hours, that is, people who have it can fall asleep all of a sudden, anywhere and anytime. Another group of people which have an increased chance of sleep paralysis are people who suffer from sleep apnea. Moreover, sleep paralysis can also occur in people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or people who have gone through a traumatic life experience.
Genetic susceptibility is another contributing factor to the development of this condition. Namely, if a person suffers from it, the chances for some other family member to develop it are much higher.
Why and how does sleep paralysis happen?
Although there are contributing factors to this condition, the real reason why it takes place is unknown. Hence, the sleeping process occurs in cycles and one of these cycles is known as REM phase, i.e. when active dreaming happens. During this stage, a lot of the muscles in our body are paralyzed.
This is a natural mechanism of the body aimed to protect itself from possible injury during sleep. During these attacks, the brain is hyper-aware and more prone to experience external sights or sounds as threats. Some researchers believe that these “presences” might be a consequence of how the brain interprets and makes sense of the signals it receives. In other words, people’s hallucinations may vary from devils to burglars and aliens.